Today was a very exciting day for Mikayla, finally being able to, and having the opportunity to, get back to her beloved horse riding, the chance to be back in the saddle!
Things have changed a bit since she last had the opportunity to ride. Mikayla has had a number of hospital stays, has finally had her surgery, has undergone months of physical rehabilitation to get to the point that she can weight bare and transfer with assistance, and has grown substantially both in height and weight. It has certainly has been a full and busy 18mths or so! What hasn’t changed in that time, is her love of horses and her utter enjoyment of riding, and all the benefits horse riding continues to provide for her socially and emotionally, as well as physically.
She was recently lucky enough to secure a position at the Riding for the Disabled Centre (RDA) in our area, and has been looking forward to this day with much excitement – the day she could get back up on a horse again.
Well today was the big day!!
As it’s been a while, none of her previous horse riding attire still fitted, so she donned the next best thing – A Harry Potter shirt, leggins, and a horse themed cap – packed her riding bag with the essentials, and headed off full of enthusiasm and eager anticipation.
There would be a number of new challenges to overcome with the changes since her last riding experiences, but from the top of the wheelchair access ramp, drawn in by the majestic beauty and reassured by the gentle calmness of the patiently awaiting “Cloud” , and gently guided by her coach, Mikayla learned a new way of mounting which enabled her legs to slowly stretch and adjust into position. Then, for the first time in a long time, she took the first slow steps with her new riding companion – the large, silky soft, white horse with gentle, sky blue eyes – as they ventured into the arena together, with Mikayla’s support team by her side.
What a sight to behold. Though it took both mental and physical concentration to maintain her balance and posture, and to find a comfortable position for her legs, she could not hide the ultimate joy in the experience and her determination to persevere were evident, despite being a little tentative and experiencing varying levels of discomfort while she made the necessary adjustments. Slowly but surely she visibly started to relax back into the rhythm of Cloud’s strong stable steps, and her body and mind started to remember what was required as they moved around the arena.
In the short time of this first meeting, it was wonderful to see relationships starting to be forged – that of rider and horse, and coach, and spotters. Relationships which will grow over the coming weeks and months as they all get to know one another, develop trust and understanding and build further confidence. And, having already done well in this first session, there is no doubt that Mikayla will continue to take steps towards achieving her goals of returning to her former level of competence and increasing her level of independence in riding.
And I for one, cant wait to watch this journey unfold!
Horse-riding is an excellent activity for Mikayla and the support of donations will help ensure she continues to be able to access this activity weekly, enabling her the best opportunity to fully benefit from it. Apart from the physical benefits of stretching and strengthening muscles and the social and emotional benefits horse riding can provide, Mikayla immensely enjoys it as an activity, and just loves that she has some freedom of movement when on the horse and that a horse can take her places that she couldn’t get to in her wheelchair!
Donations towards Mikayla’s horse riding therapy can be made online via her charity webpage at www.developingfoundation.org.au/fundraiser/event/team-mikayla where donations of $2 or more are tax deductible in Australia and where you can also read more about her current fundraising goals.